100 Greatest Country Songs

Hank Williams

Here's the purpose of this list in a nutshell: you're looking to build a collection of country music CD's, or you're looking to put some of the greatest country songs ever recorded on your iPod, and you're looking for ideas.  Well, pardner, you've come to the right place. 

Country music - or country and western music, aka C&W, as it used to be called when I was knee-high to a cornstalk, has evolved a great deal since Hank Williams first sang Your Cheatin' Heart, but it has also honored and respected its roots.  For this reason, putting together a list of the 100 Greatest Country Songs is easier than, say, a similar listing of rock songs.  I know there will probably be disagreement with some of my choices, but that's okay.  This is a free country, last I looked, and I'm just grateful to live in a society where we're allowed to hold differing opinions and yet can still find a way to all get along. 

Enough philosophizing - here's the list:

  1. Stand By Your Man - Tammy Wynette

  2. Your Cheatin' Heart - Hank Williams

  3. I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline

  4. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams

  5. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

  6. My Elusive Dreams - David Houston & Tammy Wynette

  7. Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (and others)

  8. He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones

  9. D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Tammy Wynette

  10. Streets of Laredo (Traditional) - Recorded by a small army of singers at one time or another, including Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie, Marty Robbins, Joan Baez, Willie Nelson, Michael Martin Murphey, and Clipper Erickson; the list goes on and on. 

  11. The Gambler - Kenny Rogers

  12. El Paso - Marty Robbins

  13. I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

  14. I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton

  15. Crazy Arms - Ray Price (1954)

  16. Flowers on the Wall - The Statler Brothers (1963)

  17. Back In the Saddle Again - Gene Autry

  18. Mountain Music - Alabama

  19. King of the Road - Roger Miller

  20. Blue Moon of Kentucky - Bill Monroe

  21. Fool Such As I - Baillie & The Boys

  22. Two More Bottles of Wine - EmmyLou Harris

  23. Before the Next Teardrop Falls - Freddy Fender

  24. Anymore - Travis Tritt

  25. Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks

  26. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Gene Pitney

  27. Welcome to My World - Jim Reeves

  28. Thank God I'm a Country Boy - John Denver

  29. When You Say Nothing At All - Keith Whitley

  30. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash

  31. Crazy - Patsy Cline

  32. Forever and Ever, Amen - Randy Travis

  33. Hey, Good Lookin' - Hank Williams

  34. Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver

  35. Fancy - Reba McEntire

  36. Galveston - Glen Campbell

  37. Make the World Go Away - Eddy Arnold

  38. When I Call Your Name - Vince Gill

  39. Hello Walls - Faron Young

  40. Desperado - Eagles

  41. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels - Kitty Wells

  42. Walking the Floor Over You - Ernest Tubb

  43. Act Naturally - Buck Owens

  44. The Tennessee Waltz - Patti Page's big hit was released in 1950.  Lyrics for this song were written in 1948 by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart; the music was already around, existing as an instrumental entitled "No Name Waltz." 

  45. The Devil Went Down to Georgia - The Charlie Daniels Band (1979)

  46. He'll Have to Go - Jim Reeves

  47. Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Flatt & Scruggs

  48. Green, Green Grass of Home - Porter Wagoner

  49. Take This Job and Shove It - Johnny Paycheck

  50. The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known) - Juice Newton

  51. Blue Bayou - Linda Ronstadt

  52. Devil Woman - Marty Robbins

  53. Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard

  54. Down at the Twist and Shout - Mary Chapin Carpenter

  55. Ghost Riders in the Sky - This song was a big hit for Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra back in 1949.  The tune was penned by Stan Jones, who based the lyrics upon a scary tall tale he'd heard at age 12 from an Arizona cowboy.  (There are also interesting versions by Rick Devin and many, many others!)

  56. Little Rock - Reba McEntire

  57. Red River Valley - Roger McGuinn (and lots of others)

  58. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys, also a hit for Willie Nelson

  59. Born To Lose - Ted Daffan's Texans

  60. Highwayman - Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson (1984)

  61. Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys - Willie Nelson

  62. Hello Darlin' - Conway Twitty

  63. Walking After Midnight - Patsy Cline

  64. Making Believe - Kitty Wells.  This song was written by Jimmy Work.  Emmylou Harris has a good recording of this song, too. 

  65. Keep On the Sunny Side - The Carter Family

  66. Please Help Me I'm Falling (In Love With You) - Hank Locklin.  This song was written by Don Robertson and Hal Blair. 

  67. Amarillo by Morning - George Strait

  68. I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart - Patsy Montana

  69. Happy Trails - Dale Evans & Roy Rogers

  70. Seven Year Ache - Rosanne Cash

  71. Long Black Veil - Lefty Frizzell (1959)

  72. Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson

  73. Elvira - Oak Ridge Boys

  74. All I Have to Do Is Dream - The Everly Brothers

  75. Help Me Make It Through the Night - Sammi Smith

  76. Let's Live a Little - Carl Smith

  77. Big Iron - Marty Robbins (1959)

  78. My Maria - Brooks & Dunn

  79. Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell

  80. The Dance - Garth Brooks

  81. Through the Years - Kenny Rogers

  82. The Wild Side of Life - Hank Thompson & His Brazos Valley Boys (1952)

  83. Take Me As I Am - Faith Hill

  84. Jolene - Dolly Parton

  85. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine - Jimmie Rodgers

  86. I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles released his version of this 1958 Don Gibson country tune in 1962, and it became an enormous hit. 

  87. Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean (1961)

  88. Honey (Open That Door) - Ricky Skaggs

  89. Oh Lonesome Me - Don Gibson

  90. Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford

  91. Mama Tried - Merle Haggard

  92. I've Got a Tiger By the Tail - Buck Owens

  93. San Antonio Rose - Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

  94. I've Been Everywhere - Hank Snow

  95. Heartaches by the Numbers - Ray Price

  96. Sunday Morning Coming Down - Kris Kristofferson

  97. North to Alaska - Johnny Horton (1960)

  98. Coal Miner's Daughter - Loretta Lynn

  99. Till You're Gone - Barbara Mandrell

  100. I Never Knew Lonely - Vince Gill

Well, there you go.  I'm sure I've omitted some great songs, and I'm sure the order could be rearranged, but it's a good attempt.  If you want to comment, please feel free to do so, and if I'm in town and have time, I'll make every effort to read any e-mails I get.  My address is djmcadam@gmail.com

And here are some other great tunes that probably belong on the list, and that I couldn't leave out:

And let us not forget those television ballads: "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Fess Parker, "The Ballad of Paladin" by Johnny Western (was that his real name?), and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys. 

Happy Trails!

 

Changes since the list was first published:

Number 64 was Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter.  Number 66 was A Boy Named Sue, by Johnny Cash. 

 



Of interest:

       

 

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